By Michele Kane, Chief of External Affairs
California Prison Industry Authority

The California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) held its largest graduation in Southern California at the California Institution for Women (CIW) on April 10. Family members, community leaders and union representatives cheered on 70 women who graduated with job certifications.

The women graduated from Pre-Apprentice Carpentry, Pre-Apprentice Construction Labor, Healthcare Facilities Maintenance and Code.7370, Computer Coding. These programs have some of the lowest recidivism rates in the country with a cumulative rate of 7.13 percent. Women who graduate from the pre-apprentice programs have the opportunity to work for the trade unions once they are released. CALPIA pays for the graduates’ union dues for a year and provides the first set of tools.

CALPIA’s partners include CDCR, Southwest Carpenters Training Fund, Laborers Training and Retraining Trust of Southern California, Service Employees International Union Local 1000, and non-profit The Last Mile.

CIW’s Warden Molly Hill provided encouraging words to the graduates, along with The Last Mile Co-Founder Chris Redlitz, and CALPIA’s General Manager and Prison Industry Board Executive Officer Charles Pattillo.

The keynote speaker Michele Steeb, Prison Industry board member and CEO of Saint John’s Program for Real Change inspired the women to look towards their future. She emphasized how positive thinking can open the door to success.

CALPIA holds graduations at CIW once a year. The self-supporting state entity is dedicated to teaching offenders real world job skills, giving them the opportunity to make successful transitions back to their home communities while improving public safety.